Re: Personal Views on Ukemi
Some of the comments I've read are great discussion points, but I am maybe most concerned by the sheer complexity of articles written by Mark and Ignatius. Great points veiled by long sentences can be lost, and simple concepts buried in eloquent paragraphs can be overlooked.
Like Ian, I have witnessed such cooperative ukemi that uke practically falls down without provocation. I do not believe you can learn ukemi by thinking about it, and I do not believe proper uke should be taught through cooperation, but through body awareness. Ukemi is about protecting your body. Sometimes ukemi is falling, sometimes ukemi is moving, and sometimes ukemi is kaishiwaza. I think we often teach ukemi as a submissive reaction to nage, and not as the appropriate body reaction to an external circumstance. I can't count the number of times when I have seen uke fall down prematurely, or cease attacking because they are waiting to be thrown, or are simply defeated because they know they aren't supposed to win. Teach ukemi to protect the body, once that task is accomplished grow into larger philosophical roles.
Ukemi is pretty simple. Sometimes we unnecessarily complicate matters, or worse, we cover our bad aikido by telling students they are doing bad ukemi. Bad ukemi is easy to spot - the student gets hurt. Good ukemi is easy to spot - the student does not get hurt. Then there is a large grey area where most of us train. Great writing on ukemi is a good thing, but remember those that need help most are not often advanced aikidoka capable of digesting long treatises on ukemi.